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West Jordan:
City Council

Entity: West Jordan

Public Body: City Council

Subject: Special Districts Special District's Taxing Authority

Notice Title: Creation of Highlands Special Assessment Area

Notice Type: Notice, Hearing

Notice Date & Time: July 10, 2013 | 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Description/Agenda:

NOTICE OF INTENT TO CREATE THE HIGHLANDS ASSESSMENT AREA

The City of West Jordan (the “City”) proposes to designate and create an assessment area encompassing the development land area within the City commonly known as The Highlands.  The purpose of the proposed assessment area is to provide funding for the ongoing maintenance of dedicated open space public improvements within the assessment area.

Intent to Designate

On April 24, 2013 the West Jordan City Council adopted a resolution of intent to designate and create an assessment area encompassing The Highlands development area.  This action begins the legal process for designating the assessment area.

Area Within Proposed Assessment Area

The land area within the proposed assessment area is the entirety of the land area within the City commonly known as “The Highlands” development area (“Assessment Area”).  A map showing the boundaries of the proposed Assessment Area is attached to this Notice as Exhibit A, and is incorporated herein by this reference.

Purpose of the Proposed Assessment Area

The proposed Assessment Area will be created to provide the financial resources for the ongoing maintenance of all of the dedicated open space public improvements, such as parks and trails, and collector and arterial park strips within the Assessment Area, including the costs of removal or covering of graffiti that may exist from time to time along collector and arterial streets within the Assessment Area (collectively, the “Improvements”).  
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Intended Actions within the Assessment Area

The Improvements will be maintained to the level determined by the City from time to time.  As the Assessment Area is developed, the City may solicit the opinions of the property owners in the Assessment Area.  Thereafter the Improvements will be maintained in the Assessment Area as determined by the City.

The City may perform maintenance of the Improvements; or the City may contract with one or more third party entities to perform the maintenance services.  Any use of private contractors will comply with government procurement requirements.

The City Will Pay 20% of the Costs of the Assessment Area.

Because the Improvements within the proposed Assessment Area can be accessed and used by all of the citizens of the City, and the property taxes paid by the property owners within the Assessment Area fund a certain level of general parks and open space maintenance, the City will pay from general funds 20% of the total costs of the ongoing maintenance of the Improvements in the Assessment Area in each and every year.  In other words, the property owners within the Assessment Area will together be responsible for no more than 80% of the total costs of maintenance of the Improvements in the Assessment Area at the established level of service in each and every year.

Assessments Will Be Levied on the Property Within the Assessment Area to Pay the Costs of Maintaining the Improvements.

Once a public improvement in the Assessment Area is completed and successfully completes its warranty period, the public improvement becomes dedicated to the City and a public responsibility, and will be maintained by the Assessment Area.  In order to pay for the Assessment Area’s responsibility for 80% of the funding to pay the cost of maintaining the Improvements in the Assessment Area, as described above, the City will levy a cash assessment on substantially all of the property within the Assessment Area.  Generally, an assessment will be divided into twelve (12) installments to be billed to the property owners within the Assessment Area as part of their monthly City utility bills.  In cases where property owners within the Assessment Area do not receive City utility bills, primarily owners of undeveloped land, the assessments will be billed annually as part of the County property tax collection. 

Each year the City Council will estimate the amount of money necessary to maintain the Improvements during that year.  This total estimated amount will be divided by the number of “equivalent residential units (ERU)” within the Assessment Area to determine the actual cash assessment for each property for the year.  The City Council may make adjustments to the annual cash assessment, annually or more often, if a change is needed in the amount of money necessary to maintain the Improvements in such year.

Because the maintenance season for the Assessment Area has a limited duration, but with immediate demands at the start of the season, the City may advance funds to pay the costs of maintaining the Improvements in any year prior to the collection of the total cash assessments for such year.  The City may be reimbursed for any such advances from cash assessments collected in the Assessment Area.

What is an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU)?

The property within the Assessment Area is divided into equivalent residential units (ERUs) for purpose of allocating the total yearly cash assessment.  An ERU is:

•	A single family residence, or
•	A single residential condominium unit, or
•	Each living unit in a duplex, tri-plex or four-plex, or
•	Each commercial business, or, if the business occupies more than one quarter-acre of land, each quarter-acre of land occupied by a single commercial business, or
•	Each living unit in an apartment building, or
•	Each quarter-acre of undeveloped land.  Land area measuring less than a quarter acre shall be rounded to the nearest whole quarter acre.   

For example, the owner of each single family home, regardless of size, will be assessed one ERU portion of a total developed residential assessment levy.  The owner of each residential condominium unit will be assessed one ERU portion of a developed residential assessment levy.  The owner of a rental duplex, tri-plex, four-plex or a larger apartment building will be assessed one ERU portion of a developed residential assessment levy for each residential unit in the building.  Land underlying any commercial building will be assessed one ERU portion of a commercial property assessment levy for each separate business entity on such land, provided that if a single business entity occupies more than one quarter-acre of land, such property will be assessed as many ERU’s that equals the land area occupied by that business.  Finally the owner of undeveloped land will be assessed one ERU portion of an undeveloped assessment levy for every quarter-acre of such land within the Assessment Area.  (Undeveloped land means land on which no development has yet taken place.)  Land area less than a quarter-acre will be rounded to the nearest whole quarter-acre.  For example, undeveloped or commercial land measuring 49/100 of a quarter-acre or less would be ignored if connected to one or more otherwise qualified ERUs.  On the other hand, undeveloped or commercial land measuring 50/100 of a quarter-acre or more will be rounded up to another whole ERU.

Government-owned land and facilities (for example, the Mountain View Corridor owned and operated by the State of Utah), land and facilities owned by school districts and churches, and public utility-owned land and facilities will be exempt from assessment and levy.

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Assessments will be Levied According to the Benefit of the Improvements to Each Type of Property

The Assessments are intended to pay the cost of the maintenance of the Improvements according to the estimated direct and indirect benefits to a particular property from the Improvements.  To this end the properties within the Assessment Area will be assessed based on the type of property:  developed residential property, developed commercial property, and undeveloped property.  

Developed residential property, including single family homes, residential condominiums, and apartments, are the primary beneficiaries of the Improvements.  Therefore developed residential property will bear 92% of the total costs of maintenance of the Improvements each year (net of the portion of these costs to paid by the City).  This is the “developed residential assessment levy” mentioned above.  For this purpose, developed residential property includes property as to which all infrastructure is installed and subdivided lots are identified and ready to be built upon.

Developed commercial properties benefit less than developed residential properties from the Improvements, but they do benefit directly and indirectly.  Therefore developed commercial property will bear 5% of the total costs of maintenance of the Improvements each year (net of the portion of these costs to paid by the City).  This is the “developed commercial assessment levy” mentioned above.  For this purpose, developed commercial property includes property as to which all infrastructure is installed and subdivided pads are identified and ready to be built upon.

Undeveloped property benefits significantly less than developed residential or commercial properties from the Improvements, but these properties do benefit importantly because the Improvements in the Assessment Area provide a valuable inducement and selling point for the owners of these properties.  Therefore undeveloped property will bear 3% of the total costs of maintenance of the Improvements each year (net of the portion of these costs to paid by the City). This is the “undeveloped property assessment levy” mentioned above.  Once undeveloped property is developed, it will become either developed commercial property or developed residential property, and will be assessed accordingly.

First Annual Budget and Assessment Levy

When the Assessment Area is legally designated and comes into existence, the Assessment Area will be substantially comprised of undeveloped property with no Improvements to maintain.  As a result there will be no maintenance budget and no assessment levy.  

As subdivisions within the Assessment Area are developed, Improvements within or appurtenant to those newly developed subdivisions will be constructed and will enter their applicable warranty period.  Only following this warranty period, likely at least one year after construction, will such Improvements be dedicated to and accepted by the City, and thus subject to maintenance by the Assessment Area.    

The first annual Assessment Area maintenance budget for Improvements and the related first cash assessment levy likely will take place during the first year after the first subdivision involving Improvements is constructed in the Assessment Area and while the warranty period is still in force.  That first annual budget will include an allocation of one-time costs of creating and organizing the Assessment Area (legal fees, mailing costs, etc.).  The City may decide to carry and allocate these start-up expenses as each new subdivision comes on line.

Follow on Budgets and Assessments

Over the next several years, new subdivisions and related Improvements will come on line within the Assessment Area.  Given the time it will take a new subdivision from application to approval to construction and through warranty, the maintenance demands of new subdivisions will be well understood early on and maintenance budgets can be revised likely annually, with assessment levies also revised likely annually.  
Property owners within the Assessment Area at the time the first subdivision is completed and out of warranty will be assessed based on only the maintenance needs of the Improvements then existing.  As new subdivisions come on line with additional Improvements, the maintenance costs of these new Improvements will put upward pressure on the Assessment Area maintenance budget and assessment levy.  However, as more developed properties come into existence, the increasing number of ERUs  will put downward pressure on assessment levies.  It is possible that some new subdivisions will have few Improvements, while some new subdivisions will have more Improvements.  For periods of time there may be greater growth in the number of ERUs than in Improvements, yielding theoretically lower assessments.  For other periods of time, there may be greater growth in Improvements, yielding theoretically higher assessments.  

With no properties developed in the Assessment Area at this time, it is impossible to project actual assessment levies or maintenance costs.

The Stone Creek area contiguous with The Highlands is a highly developed and built out area with substantially known open space public improvements.  The City has studied the possibility of establishing an assessment area covering the Stone Creek area, and in that connection has very generally estimated a 2013-2014 fiscal year maintenance budget and assessment levy for such an assessment area covering only Stone Creek.  The first year assessment levy on a single family residential property in Stone Creek was estimated by the City at between $6 and $9 per month depending on the level of maintenance service decided by the City.  While the Improvements in The Highlands Assessment Area and the number of ERUs in The Highlands Assessment Area, when The Highlands is built out to the same level as Stone Creek, may differ markedly from Stone Creek, the level of assessment levy determined by the City for Stone Creek may provide some understanding as to the expected level of developed residential assessment levy in The Highlands.
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Enforcement of Property Owners’ Duty to Pay Assessments

The City will often have to advance the money to enable public facility maintenance in the Assessment Area, relying on the receipt of assessment levy payments over time to reimburse the City.  Thus in a real sense, all of the tax payers in the City are relying on the property owners in the Assessment Area to timely pay their assessments.  

As noted earlier, the assessments to support the activities of the Assessment Area will be billed either as a utility service item on the water bills sent out by the City, or as part of the County property tax bill.  City policy is to credit payments received from utility customers in a “reverse waterfall” effect against each of the various utility service charges (e.g., culinary water, street lights, sewer, storm water, garbage, etc.) with water service fees paid last.  Thus a utility bill paid in full will pay all utility charges including culinary water.  But a utility bill payment even $1.00 short will mean that culinary water charges have not been paid in full, and State-authorized remedies for failure to pay water charges include shutting off culinary water.  

Those properties whose assessment levy is not billed with utility services will be billed through the County property tax system.  Unpaid assessments would become liens against the property, and could be pursued through normal collection efforts, including credit reporting and collection lawsuits.

Ultimately unpaid assessment levy amounts on any property in the Assessment Area can be reduced to judgment liens against property within the Assessment Area.

Right to Protest the Proposed Assessment Area

Utah law provides every property owner within the proposed Assessment Area an opportunity to protest (a) the designation of the Assessment Area, (b) the inclusion of the owner’s property in the proposed Assessment Area, (c) the proposed Improvements to be maintained or (d) any other aspect of the proposed designation of the Assessment Area.  A simple and short letter specifying your protest, identifying (by address or other identifying information) the property owned, and signed by the owner(s) of the property must be hand delivered or mailed, first class postage pre-paid, to:

		City Clerk/Recorder
 		City of West Jordan
		8000 South Redwood Road
		West Jordan, Utah   84088

Protests postmarked or directly received prior to 5:00 PM on June 27, 2013 will be counted.  Protests postmarked or received after that time and date will not be counted.  

If 50% or more of the total ERUs in the proposed Assessment Area timely protest, the City Council will not proceed to designate the Assessment Area.  

Final Hearing on the Proposed Assessment Area

If insufficient protests are timely submitted, the City Council will hold a public hearing on July 10, 2013 at 6:00 PM in the City Council chambers at the West Jordan City Hall to discuss and receive public comment on the designation and establishment of the proposed Assessment Area.  Regardless of whether an owner within the proposed Assessment Area timely protested, each and every such owner may participate in the public hearing and voice his or her opinions.

Right to Challenge the Designation of Assessment Area and /or the Initial Assessment Levy.

Any person may file a legal challenge to the designation of the Assessment Area within 30 days of the City Council’s final action designating the Assessment.  Such a legal challenge will be limited to any alleged failure of the City to comply with legal requirements in the designation of the Assessment Area.
In the future, any person aggrieved may legally challenge in court any proposed new assessment levy in the Assessment Area, again within 30 days of the decision of the City Council approving the new assessment levy.

Exhibit A
Description of the Proposed Assessment Area Is Available on the City of West Jordan’s website:
http://www.wjordan.com/CityClerk.aspx?pgID=3.4.3.6

Notice of Special Accommodations:

"In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the City of West Jordan will make reasonable accommodations for participation in the meeting. Request for assistance can be made by contacting the City Clerk at 801-569-5115, providing at least three working days advance notice of the meeting. TTY 711"

Notice of Electronic or telephone participation:

Electronic or Telephonic Participation may be used if needed from time to time. Public notice will be provided pursuant to UCA 52-4-207

Other information:

This notice was posted on: May 20, 2013 02:22 PM
This notice was last edited on: May 20, 2013 03:26 PM
Deadline Date: July 10, 2013 06:00 PM

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